Thirty years of classroom experience makes Mary Rose a teaching expert. We've asked her to answer a question from a new teacher. Hear her advice!

The Question:
How can I make the beginning of my day less stressful? I only have a few minutes to take attendance, complete the lunch count, collect myriads of papers and money from students, check that their assignment books are signed, and get ready for the day. How can I make this whole process simpler?

Mary Rose's Answer:
Every morning it is a little bit chaotic in almost every classroom. A couple things: if this person is checking an assignment book every morning, that implies to me that they must have the students write down their homework for the parents. One thing they can do is simply skip that step and wait and check the assignment books when students are actually writing the assignments down in the afternoon. Don't have them get the books out two times, in other words. Wait until the afternoon when they're writing down their homework, and then check for them.

Another thing you can do is just get a piece of cardboard and write all their names on the edge of the cardboard, get some clip clothespins, put the names of the children on the clip clothespins, and match them up to the cardboard. On the other side of the cardboard, have a place for lunches like if you brought your lunch and another place for lunches if you are having a school lunch. When the kids come in, they simply move their clothespins from one side of the cardboard to the other, and then in an instant you can just glance at that cardboard and know who's there, how many lunches you've got and how many bag lunches and who's missing and who's absent. And the kids will do it for you. A lot of those things help if you just get the kids to do them for you. I did it in my room with a big dolphin because we have a dolphin in the classroom for our mascot. So the kids simply move their clip from one part of the dolphin to the other, and then I just know how many lunches and who's absent. And it's done in a second.